British tennis team to skip ceremony

WIMBLEDON, England -- Andy Murray and the other members of the British Olympic tennis squad have been told by a team official to skip Friday's opening ceremony so they can get plenty of rest before the tournament begins Saturday.

The directive came from team leader Paul Hutchins after the schedule for the first day of play came out Friday morning. The ceremony, taking place on the other side of London, was to begin at 9 p.m. and run past midnight.

Murray and his brother Jamie were scheduled to play doubles Saturday, when the six other British players also had matches scheduled. Elena Baltacha, who is competing in singles and doubles, said she understood the logic behind skipping the ceremonies.

"We're here to compete," she said. "It would have been really nice to go, but we're here for a reason, and that has to come first. ... It is a shame, but we can watch it on TV, that's what I'll be doing with my mum."

About half of the contingent of more than 500 British athletes was expected to miss the ceremony.

"Attendance at the opening ceremony is a choice made by each sport," the British Olympic Association said. "While the ceremonies are significant occasions, the priority is that performance on the field of play comes first for Team GB's athletes."